The first week of May is traditionally Juror Appreciation Week at the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. We have balloons, gift card giveaways, an art show highlighting pieces that our jurors have created, and complimentary coffee and donuts.
However, this May is different. This May, we do not even have jurors.
The fact that our Jury Assembly Room is empty does not mean we are not thinking about our jurors. We deeply appreciate the citizens who served jury duty in the past year. In fact, we look forward to resuming jury trials and we cannot wait to welcome the public back into their critical role in the justice system.
While we anticipate a resumption of trials, we understand that things will not be the same as they were in March when we wrapped up our last trial. The COVID-19 curve many be flattening, but the virus is not gone. The Court understands that changes need to be made before we impanel our next jury.
We are working with building and health experts to determine how best to conduct trials, and we can assure the public that appropriate safety measures will be taken. This includes staggering the times that jurors arrive, seating jurors in the courtrooms with proper social distancing, and having only certain courtrooms available for jury trials. These rooms would then be thoroughly disinfected every evening. Masks will be worn by all persons throughout trial proceedings.
The Court knows that not everyone will feel comfortable answering his or her jury summons. We hope the safety measures we are taking will help ease these concerns. The safety of the public and our staff are our top priority, which is why our Judges have agreed to postpone trials until the end of July.
As we get closer to calling jurors back to the Court, more information and details on the changes will be made available. We will also be available to answer your jury summons questions and address your concerns. Once the worst of the pandemic passes, and we are given the green light to resume trials, we look forward to getting back to the business of offering defendants and claimants a “jury of their peers.”
So, we offer a deeply heartfelt “thank you” to our past jurors, as well as to those who have yet to serve. The right to a jury trial is a cornerstone of this country’s legal system and the Courts rely on you to decide many cases. When trials resume, our courtrooms will be ready for you.
We hope to see you soon!
Judge Brendan J. Sheehan